Arab Regional Meeting Forwards Recommendations to UNCSD Preparatory Committee

17 October 2011: The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting approved recommendations to the UNCSD Preparatory Committee, which is receiving inputs for the compilation document until 1 November 2011.

The Arab Regional PrepCom convened from 16-17 October 2011, at the League of Arab States headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. The meeting was organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the League of Arab States and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)/Regional Office for West Asia.

This meeting took place in the context of recent changes in the Arab region that have raised expectations for progress and development. Some saw this as an opportunity to build on the momentum to create new forms of debate and participation. Others, however, believed that some of the transitions in government might have hindered preparations for this regional meeting, and some expressed concern regarding lack of communication within and between ministries on the various issues.

On green economy, delegates highlighted the lack of a universal definition and agreed to identify the green economy as a tool for sustainable development rather than as a new principle that might replace sustainable development. Recommendations from the meeting spell out conditions for the use of any future green economy concept, in light of concerns that such a concept might add constraints on the development or socioeconomic requirements of their countries. Others stressed the economic and social opportunities of a green economic transition. They referred to various beneficial ongoing activities that can be seen as part of or contributing to this transition, such as the creation of low-carbon cities.

Regarding the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), many delegates brought their national experiences to the table, with some explaining, for example, that they have or are in the process of establishing national sustainable development councils.

The recommendations adopted by the meeting cover these two themes – green economy and IFSD – as well as the UNCSD's objectives on progress achieved and gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and emerging and new challenges.

In preparation for the meeting, a regional capacity-building workshop for Major Groups was held on 15 October 2011. [IISD RS Meeting Coverage] [Meeting Website]